Last night, I found myself back in my Happy Place.
Standing on a green indoor basketball court, with my beaten down gym bag, I was back in a place where I spent almost half of my college life on. A refuge, a secret hiding place. When class ended, and people headed out to get a few drinks, my friends would ask where I was. When it was 4:30 on a friday night, on every other night, everyone I knew, knew where to find me. My Happy Place.
Futsal made me happy, last night reminded me just that.
When the bell rang at 4:30, my mind stopped caring about school. I’d pushed my way through the crowds of students and would run to the covered court just behind the CAS building. Some say you have to take your time to do things right, how weird it was that it only took me almost a minute to change into my training clothes and I was wearing them right. Futsal training was always the most interesting part of my day.
I never really had a knack for sports. Heck, I didn’t even like watching sports on TV, but if it involved players passing the ball around with their feet, that kept me interested. David Beckham was my very first favorite.
I was still standing on the familiar green covered court a few steps away were familiar faces that made me smile. See that was the thing about Futsal, usually you play against the same people. No matter how long ago its been since you last played, when someone sends a text saying the court is free to play Futsal on, it was always game on. I spot a few of my old teammates sitting on the floor, trying to wear their high socks while talking to probably the current varsity team members. I make my way to them when a familiar face sprints toward me and gives me the warmest hug I’ve received in the longest time.
“Hi Mommy!” She squealed, her right hand holding her jersey. The younger players knew me as mommy, just because I was the first to leave the team. I graduated on her 1st year. It was nice to be remembered, even if I haven’t showed my face for the longest time.
A few high fives here and there and I made my way to the changing rooms. Funny how it still felt like a routine. I’d take my favorite changing stall and took out my training gear. My blue jersey didn’t seem so lose anymore. I get out of the room and look at myself in front of the mirror. I was 10 pounds heavier. I didn’t really care.
I was back in my Happy Place.
I saw more familiar faces. I saw a few boys we used to play against during tournaments. You could see the excitement in their faces. They changed right away. We took the timer out and set the time to 25 minutes. We usually played for 30. Maybe the last 5 minutes was for rest.
The bell rings. Just like before, I didn’t start the game. I stayed on the sidelines, trying to remember how to play the sport. There are only 5 people in a team, everyone had to do their part. Everyone had to run. Could I even run? I barely played after I graduated. I started doing vices: Smoking, drinking, trying this and that. I gained weight because I was depressed and I had a hard time finding something to give me endorphins. I hated gyms. Futsal was the the only thing that pushed me to exercise, and want to exercise.
I was in my Happy Place.
I was called to sub at 10 minutes. I made the sign of the cross before entering the court. Next thing I know, the ball was passed to me. Its funny how you can see how aging changes everything, in my case, it changed how I ran and handled the ball. I was always a passer not a shooter, but in the game of Futsal, we all had an equal change to score a goal. Right now, I just wanted to pass. We all aged.
Some pushed others to run around more, take their place. The usual long lasting players asked for subs a little too early. I started walking around at 3 minutes. It was hilarious. Some missed passes, some missed shots and one got sprained.
I lasted 10 minutes. I used to last a whole 30. Aging comes unexpectedly. You’d notice it in the little things. I noticed it with my speed. We spent two hours just playing and still it wasn’t enough. After every quarter we’d still took the habit of high fiving everyone. Patting each other on the backs saying “Good Game” or “Nice shot” but unlike before, we shared the same sentiment, “Shocks we are getting old”.
That night was my favorite night. It made me remember the good old days, the better ones. Futsal was open to everyone, all we needed was free time. Usually, we freed our time.
I took of my old Futsal shoes and socks off and wore my rubber slippers. A friend of mine who played along side us dragged his chair beside me and sat down. He used to run fast as well and took strong hits but now I found him smiling embarrassingly, without saying I knew what ran inside his head.
“Gosh I’m old” he says, a little chuckle escaped his lips. I laughed “Me too.”
“Its a good thing you went. Isn’t playing Futsal fun?” he says. I smile at him. It was the first time in a long time that I smiled genuinely. “It is. I missed this”
I’ve tried so many times to seek a new way to get me smiling again. All the while only a night of Futsal could bring it back.
I guess its time to buy myself a new pair of Futsal shoes. Just an excuse to play again.Just be back in my Happy Place.